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Heineken Cup | The Epic Journey

The Epic Journey

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Season 2012-13

Dublin hosted the final for the third time, and the first at the Aviva Stadium, and the burning question was would an Irish club be able to make it all the way? Leinster were unbeaten in 15 European matches, Ulster had finishes as runners-up the previous season, and Munster were still a potent force.

For the first time, two clubs went through the pool stage with a 100 per cent record, yet neither Harlequins nor ASM Clermont Auvergne ended up carrying off the main prize. Clermont managed to reach the final, but once again the curse of the Heineken Cup hit home to prevent them from matching Toulouse in 1995/96 and Brive in 1996/97 and going through the season undefeated.

Ulster, Toulon and Saracens were other convincing pool winners, dropping only one game each, while Leicester Tigers emerged from the Pool of Death ahead of Toulouse and the Ospreys.

The ever-increasing competitiveness of the pool stage meant the reigning champions Leinster were pipped by Montpellier and Munster to the two best runners-up spots, and moved into the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. It was the first time since 2008 that the champions had failed to make it through to the knockout stage in defence of their title.

A Paul O'Connell-inspired Munster put an end to the unbeaten run of the English champions Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop in the quarter-finals and almost pulled off a repeat performance against Clermont in the semi-finals. In the end, Munster were beaten 16-10 in a game that saw the final act in the greatest career of any player in European history. After a record 110 appearances over 16 seasons, which saw him score a record 1,365 points and win in two of his four final appearances, Ronan O'Gara bowed out at the age of 36.

TOULON overpowered Leicester Tigers at home in their quarter-final and then beat Saracens at Twickenham Stadium to reach their first final and set-up a fourth all-French decider.

They found Clermont in fine form in the early stages in Dublin and moved nine points clear, but Toulon hit back. Jonny Wilkinson kicked them ahead with 14 minutes left to play and they hung on to become the 10th team to take the most coveted title in professional club rugby, and only the third French side.

Ironically, all their points in the final came from Englishmen, with Delon Armitage scoring a try and Wilkinson kicking 11 points.

ERC TV | The Final
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2012-2013 - Heineken Cup
How the Final was won
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